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Manteca hauls away tool shed
City first warned of violation 2 years ago
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A Manteca tow truck driver moves a shed that was ruled to be non-conforming from a home in the 600 block of Pestana Avenue Tuesday afternoon. The homeowner was given 30 days to move the small building away from his house where it was ruled a fire danger. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Even though it looked like a playhouse, Manteca’s code enforcement officers said the decorative tool shed had to go from behind a fence and nestled too closely next to a home in the 600 block of Pestana Avenue as it was a lingering violation of the building code.

Rich Ruggiero was given a 30-day notice – extended to 60 days – to remove the building; the deadline was Tuesday night.  A tow truck driver from Vern’s Towing loaded up the shed at about 3 p.m. and hauled it away to its new home.

Ruggiero said he had originally paid $1,800 for the decorative tool shed in addition to the cost of paint and labor.  He added that others in the neighborhood have similar sheds popping up over their fences saying the city hasn’t done anything about them.  He said he was able to find a buyer for the structure, noting that his lawn tools are now strewn across his patio.

Code enforcement officer Greg Baird said he had subsequently contacted a neighbor to abate another shed that Ruggiero had pointed out to him as being illegal.  The homeowner had moved the small building out onto his driveway Tuesday placing signs next to it, claiming the city was being unfair to him.

Baird said he first went to the Ruggiero home this June in answer to a neighbor’s complaint of a trailer parked in front of the man’s home in violation of a city ordinance. While there he said he noticed the shed was located closer than allowed next to the side of the home.  It was in violation of the Uniform Building Code, he said.

He returned to the home  three weeks later and the placement of the shed continued to be in violation as it was again in another three weeks.

The code enforcement officer said the illegal location of the shed first came to light two years ago when the homeowner complied and moved it to the rear of his property and away from the house.  

The trailer was parked on a concrete pad that reportedly exceeded the amount of paved concrete area that is allowed in the code around a single family home, he said.

Code Enforcement Supervisor Rex Osborn explained the concern about such a shed being too close to a home is in being a direct fire threat.  

“Primarily people will store things in sheds that create hazards from lawn mowers to gas, paints, cloths and other things you wouldn’t store in a garage.” Osborn said.

Osborn said code officers are not staffed to the point they can patrol the city – being proactive to hazards – looking for violations.  With the current city staffing and the size of the community, staff members can only be “reactive” to complaints of violations. When a citizen makes a complaint we have to respond to that complaint.  The law calls for such a structure to be five feet away from a house and three feet from a fence, he added.

Osborn said the resident had gone to the police department and sought him out after speaking with Baird at length.  He was given an additional 30 days to comply with the abatement order.  Osborn added that a next door neighbor on Pestana Avenue recently had to move her shed to the back of her property to be compliant.

“We have shown him historical things on his property that were not in compliance that we are not enforcing at this time,” he said.

Osborn admitted that Baird has a tough job enforcing Uniform Building Code sections and occasionally draws the ire of citizens who don’t want to comply.  But, he said the code officer also has countless letters thanking him for going the extra mile for citizens making their compliance as easy as possible for them.

“We’re not picking on anybody – just doing our job,” Osborn said.